Dobson praises Stormers’ character

Stormers coach John Dobson has admitted his side was ‘well beaten’ despite their stunning come-from-behind victory over the Pumas on Friday evening. DYLAN JACK reports.

The Stormers pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat when they found themselves trailing the Pumas by 23 points with 18 minutes remaining in Nelspruit.

MATCH REPORT: Stormers comeback floors plucky Pumas

Up until that stage, the Pumas had been fantastic, keeping the Stormers on the back foot with a number of well-placed kicks from fullback Devon Williams. Nobody would have complained if they had won the match.

However, the big test for teams like the Pumas and Griquas was always going to be whether they could go the full 80 against some of South Africa’s stronger franchises.

As it happened, the Stormers found an extra gear in the final 20 minutes, getting themselves back into the contest through tries from Neethling Fouche, Bongi Mbonambi and Leolin Zas, before Warrick Gelant scored a controversial winner after receiving what appeared to be a forward pass from replacement lock JD Schickerling.

Speaking after the match, Dobson praised his side’s character to give themselves a chance of winning, but admitted the Pumas were the better side for most of the match.

‘Probably the only thing we showed was some character towards the end,’ Dobson said. ‘I thought we were really well beaten. The Pumas were really outstanding. They probably left two or three tries out there.

‘You can’t coach that sort of character. That came from those guys. We had pulled all of our Springboks off and our next tier really stood up, so I was really proud of them.

‘They pinned us really well back into our own half. We also messed up lineout after lineout, so we couldn’t get out of our half. In terms of territory, they dominated us.

‘By that stage, we were well beaten so we just had to show some pride in the jersey. We were better than that, which was the message at half time. But with 15 minutes to go, it was the same story. A great train robbery.

‘Our substitutes made a massive difference,’ Dobson added. ‘Nama Xaba, Neethling Fouche the tighthead prop, and JD Schickerling, who probably should have started in retrospect.’

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Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack